Hyde Park will host the triathlon and 10K marathon swimming events during the Olympics, as well as live screenings and world-class music and performances. If you’re in town for the games, live in the city year-round, or are planning a visit in the future, here’s a great way to see one of London’s loveliest locales.
Deep pockets of shade intermingle with bright spots of sunlight as I admire stately trees, bloom-filled gardens, and swan-dotted ponds on my run through two of London’s most beautiful parks.
This magnificent green enclave feels regal to me, and it’s no wonder: Henry VIII acquired Hyde Park in the 16th century to be used as a deer park, where he could host hunting parties. Kensington Gardens was carved out of Hyde Park in 1728.
I begin at Kensington Palace, the stately redbrick manse where Queen Victoria spent her childhood and where Princess Diana took up residence after her split with Charles. I jog along the tree-shaded pathways until I come to a large, blue body of water—the Serpentine.
In summer, locals swim and boat here, though today all’s quiet except for my pounding footsteps and the quacking ducks. Making my way to the north-east corner of Hyde Park, I follow Lovers Walk to Speakers’ Corner—the famous open-air soapbox where the public may speak its piece.
After soaking up more views of verdant gardens and copses of trees, head back toward Kensington Palace and make a detour to see the statue of Peter Pan, who lived in the gardens with the fairies and the birds in J.M. Barrie’s classic novel—a fitting end to this fairy-tale run.
Mileage: 4-mile loop
Best time: This is an all-season run, though it’s at its finest on a beautiful spring day.
Start: Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens
End: Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens
– From the Broad Walk at Kensington Palace, take the path that goes diagonally to the right of Round Pond past the bandstand and follow it to West Carriage Drive.
– Go left on West Carriage Drive to the Serpentine, where you can amble down to the water’s edge, and continue on a path headed east along the Lido.
– At the end of the Serpentine, go left on the path, then turn right on the first path you come to. Follow this to the Achilles statue and Lovers’ Walk, which you take to a small pond.
– Continue on the Broad Walk to Speakers’ Corner, then follow North Ride, crossing the Ring and making your way west past Queen Anne’s Alcove.
– Follow Northwalk along the northern perimeter of Kensington Gardens, all the way back to the Broad Walk.
– Turn left and head back to Kensington Palace.